The Baylor Bears, led by new head coach Nicki Collen, is one of four Big 12 teams in the Preseason AP Women’s Top 25 basketball poll, released on Tuesday.
The South Carolina Gamecocks are the preseason No. 1, led by head coach Dawn Staley.
Baylor came in at No. 7 in the preseason poll, on the strength of last season’s Elite Eight run under former head coach Kim Mulkey. She left Baylor for LSU after the tournament, and Collen was hired to replace her. Collen was formerly the head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. The coaches selected the Bears as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12.
Collen has talent to work with. NaLyssa Smith and Jordan Lewis led the Preseason Big 12 Women’s Basketball Awards, with Smith named Preseason Player of the Year and Lewis named Preseason Newcomer of the Year. Smith was last season’s Wade Trophy award winner as the best player in women’s college basketball. Queen Egbo was also named to the All-Big 12 preseason team.
Following Baylor is Iowa State at No. 12, led by last year’s Cheryl Miller Award winner guard/forward Ashley Joens. Jones was named a Big 12 preseason team. The Cyclones went to the NCAA Tournament last season and won their first game. The Cyclones also return a second All-Big 12 preseason pick in guard Lexi Donarski.
West Virginia was No. 19 and Texas was No. 25.
The Mountaineers won a NCAA Tournament game and returns forward Esmery Martinez, who was a unanimous pick to the All-Big 12 preseason team.
Texas lost forward Charli Collier, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft. But, the Longhorns — who reached the Elite Eight last year — returns guard Joanne Allen-Taylor, a Big 12 preseason selection, and has the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year in forward Aaliyah Moore.
After South Carolina at No. 1, the Top 10 included No. 2 UConn, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Maryland, No. 5 North Carolina State, No. 6 Louisville, No. 7 Baylor, No. 8 Indiana, No. 9 Iowa and No. 10 Oregon.
Oklahoma State received eight votes and Oklahoma received three votes.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
**Want to win a $20 gift card? Go sign up here and join our conversation! The best poster each week wins a gift card to your favorite establishment!**